This is the former Norfolk and Western Railroad's CF Class Caboose #518-303. It was built at the N&W East End Shops in Roanoke, Virginia, in April 1922. The N&W did not serve Bowie but did enter Maryland at Hagerstown. After nearly fifty years of service she was retired to a scrap yard, but rescued, and given to the city of Bowie in 1972. She sat in Allen Pond Park, suffered a fire in the late70s, and was relocated to this museum in 2000, then restored on the exterior.
It would appear that our caboose has a historic connection to the Bowie area and the Pope's Creek Railroad line running from Bowie to Southern Maryland.
While not conclusive, it is interesting that this is the same class caboose as the Bowie Railroad Station Museum's piece, and is very likely the Bowie Caboose after it saw active service on the N&W. By this era, the Pennsylvania Railroad Company controlled the Norfolk and Western.
Did You Know?
A caboose was the accustomed conclusion to any freight train and served many roles. It allowed crewmen to keep a lookout for how the freight cars were functioning as the train moved along. It provided a place for the crew working on a freight train to rest and eat. Also, lanterns call "marker lights" indicated the end of a passing train and served as a warning to approaching trains that came up the track.
The crew could sit and view the length of a freight train through the windows in the cupola, the raised viewing area on the roof. The interior of the caboose provided a toilet and washbasin, a coal stove for heat and cooking, two oil lamps for light, an ice box, and two sets of upper and lower bunks.